Feature Story

Advancing Careers through Certificates

Hilary Bentman, Brand Journalist
Grad student walking in front of Bruce Hall

Corinne Wessner was working as an ultrasound technologist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia when she started thinking about graduate school.

Wessner wanted to expand her knowledge base within the health care field – possibly adding marketing, operations, and administrative skills – to ready herself for that eventual next step in her career. She just wasn’t sure which graduate program to pursue. 

“I wasn’t exactly sure the right route, so I thought a certificate would help me get a feel of what graduate school was going to be like,” said Wessner.

Wessner enrolled in Widener’s health care management certificate program on a part-time basis, and after only a few classes, decided to parlay the experience into a full MBA in health care management.

“The certificate program is a nice segue to diving full in and pursuing a master’s degree,” said Wessner. “I fell in love with Widener from the very start. Classes are small so I get to know my classmates and professors and build relationships with them. And in every class, we have assignments and projects that are directly translatable into the professional world.”

Wessner completed the certificate and her coursework transferred over to the MBA program. Today, she balances her full-time job as a research sonographer with part-time MBA evening classes, expecting to graduate in 2020. 

Wessner’s experience is not unusual. With more than 20 post-baccalaureate certificate programs offered across Widener’s campus, working professionals can gain the skills and knowledge they need to take the next step in their fields or to transition to new ones, all while maintaining their professional commitments.

Certificates range from business-related offerings, to a higher education leadership and administration certificate, to nonprofit leadership. They involve powerful, flexible programs that adapt to individual student goals.

Certificates can be standalone, without the full commitment of a graduate degree program. Many can be completed in one year. 

Certificates can also serve as a way of trying out or easing into a full-fledged degree track, with most transferring directly into a master's or doctoral program.

Widener certificates also help working professionals stay up to date in ever-shifting industries.

Some fields are changing so fast that people who graduated 10 years ago wouldn’t have skills related to big data and analytics, for instance. They come back and get a certificate and update their skills. — Jose Proenca, director of graduate programs in the School of Business Administration

While pursuing her master of social work, Jeffane Bernardin decided her leadership skills needed a boost. 

“Some people are more inclined to be natural leaders having more innate leadership characteristics. However, I think management and leadership skills are something that can be learned or improved,” she said. “I wanted to be as marketable as I could as a social worker, so if a management or leadership position opened to me, I would be prepared.”

For Bernardin, the answer was Widener’s organizational leadership certificate, which helps individuals learn to manage projects, people, and organizational change.

Through Widener’s sex therapy certificate, clinicians receive the education, training, and credentials they need to become certified sex therapists, which can help them stand out from their professional peers.

“The world of psychotherapy is becoming very crowded. Sex therapy is an important niche. It’s a great way for practicing psychotherapists to expand their practices and distinguish themselves from practitioners in the field,” said Sabitha Pillai-Friedman, associate professor and coordinator of the sex therapy track.

And being attached to a university-based program distinguishes Widener’s certificate from others around the country. “It’s much more rigorous and cutting-edge in comparison to other programs in the field. The training is offered by professors who are educators, sex therapy practitioners and researchers,” said Pillai-Friedman.

Explore All Certificate Programs

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